Rick Paul: September 2009 Archives

Addendum on Adwords

I've had a lot of questions recently concerning my marketing efforts for Saguaro Shadows Photography and my use of Google Adwords.

To recap, Google Adwords is Google's name of the advertising they run on their search engine. When you perform a search, paying clients advertisement run on the left hand side of the search engine.

AdWords uses keywords you define to determine when your add will pop up on a users screen. There are many factors that determine when, if, and how often your ad will pop up, but the keywords are, well..., the key!

Here is a list of my most popular keywords. These are keywords that generate at least one click-thru hit per month:

  • Tucson Photographers
  • Wedding Photography
  • Senior Portraits
  • Family Photography
  • Portrait Photography
  • Kids Photography
  • Christmas Photography
  • Children Photography

More complex phases, like "Tucson Wedding Photographer" are not working at all. My Adwords campagn is already targeted to Arizona customers, so this level of detail is probably not required

On side note, been reading my blog? If so, I'd like to hear from you! Please drop me a line and let me know what you like, or would like me to talk about in future blogs.

Quality Printing

Just a few years ago, my printing was limited to finding the best lab I could for my prints. When I lived in Los Angeles, I was fortunate enough to live near Colortek in Culver City, top lab who serviced top L.A. clients.

When I moved to Tucson, I found the lab Photographic Works to be very similar to Colortek in terms of services and quality.

But then I discovered the video tutorial from Luminous Landscape, From Camera to Print. In this video series, Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe introduce the viewer to the process of getting a good quality image out of the camera and onto a quality print. This video series is worth watching by any photographer serious about trying to print their own work.

Camera to Print convinced me to invest in an Epson 3800 printer. This outstanding 17" printer can produce prints up to 17"x22" in size. It has recently been replaced by the updated Epson 3880.

This printer has enabled me to produce high quality, fine art prints for my clients, at a lower cost than labs can, at equal or higher quality. By producing my own prints, I can control the quality and appearance of the final output.

A key component of producing your own prints is choosing a quality paper. There are hundreds of choices here. An excellent resource I have found is the company Shades of Paper. Shades of Paper provides an outstanding selection of fine photographic papers, printers,and supplies with excellent customer service.

The papers I have settled on for most of my work are the Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta and Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl . But in the future, I will continue to evaluate other papers.

One way to start exploring paper choices to purchase a paper sampler pack. Most of the larger paper manufacturers offer such sampler packs.

The next step for my printing? Perhaps one of these!

Earlier this summer,Saguaro Shadows Photography was asked to help a friend with a wedding. The friend had been requested to shoot a wedding, and they had agreed. Our friend is an amateur, and asked for help. We went to the wedding intending to provide guidance on shot setup, posing, etc. We brought our cameras, just in case. We ended up needing them, and doing a lot more than originally planned...

...and learning some lessons along the way.

The primary photographer captured many good images during the course of the ceremony. But they also missed several key moments due to some very simple mistakes.

  • Know your equipment - The primary photographer was not familiar enough with their equipment to understand the various modes and behavior of the camera. This led to incorrect settings at times, causing blurry pictures due to very slow shutter speeds. This is really no different than the old rule of never take a new piece of equipment out on an important shoot before you've tested it and know how to use it.
  • Watch the settings - Photographer was not watching the aperture and shutter speed choices the camera was making, and did not recognize when the shutter speed was dropping too low. They were relying on the "scene" mode they had chosen to make the correct choices, which it was not.
  • Watch your power - Photographer had spare batteries for the camera and flash, but they were not ready at hand. Also, they didn't recognize when the batteries were running low. This lead to shots being taken without the flash firing, again resulting in very slow shutter speeds and blurry images. They didn't realize how many flash shots they had taken prior to the ceremony. They could have used some of the downtime before the ceremony or right after the ceremony to change to fresh batteries for the next phase of the shoot.
  • Watch your focus The primary photographer was using a lower end, competitor camera. Many of their shots were out of focus, and they should not have been. The photographer was not "chimping" enough to understand they were missing shots because of bad focus.
  • Meet the client - The photographer knew one set of the parents, but had never met the bride and groom prior to the wedding. Getting to know the bride and groom prior to the week of the wedding will create a better and more trustful relationship. You'll be closer to being a friend of the family rather than just hired helped. We always schedule an engagement shoot with the couple weeks or months before the wedding, just so we can begin to establish that relationship.

When we realized the primary photography was struggling, along we making suggestions on how to fix their problems, we pulled out our equipment and start shooting side by side.

In the end, there were enough good pictures from the primary photographer and our own to salvage the shoot and avoid a disaster. But proper planning and understanding of the equipment could have avoided any lost opportunities.

Vacation and more work


Following our wedding shoot in Huntsville, Alabama, our family took a much needed vacation to DisneyWorld. We had a nice time, and even got a few nice pictures with our vacation camera, a Nikon D70s.

After the vacation, it was time for Saguaro Shadows Photography to get back to work with another destination wedding. This was a destination wedding with a twist. Located in Newport Beach, California, this wedding was entirely held on a yacht!

Destination weddings require extra planning, but a wedding on board a yacht created even more challenges! No running out to the car to grab a piece of equipment! Also, the yacht did not allow any tripods, lightstands or monopods. Even though this was a very large yacht, space was still cramped.

Good news was the wedding took place under a white awning on the upper deck, and below deck, the other levels all had low white ceilings. This created ideal conditions for using the Gary Fong Lightsphere.

We also planned the wedding timing with the bride to accommodate afternoon shots outdoors, and sunset shots in the evening

Sunset shots are tricky. For this shot, I figured out the sunset exposure and dialed in some compensation, then adjusted the fill on the SB-800 to light up the couple.

This wedding turned out well, and the couple was very pleased with our work. This wedding is also leading to work in the future for us, from Tucson guests who were at the wedding.